March 23, 2020

Coronavirus gets America cleaning

There’s an old adage from the restaurant industry – if there’s time to lean, there’s time to clean.

With the ongoing coronavirus crisis, government suggestions Americans stay home to stop the spread of the disease are increasingly turning into mandates. Most schools and public places are effectively closed, and many employers have set up telecommuting for workers.

On breaks between Netflix binges and video games, why not spend some extra time following the recommendations of public health officials through daily cleaning and disinfecting?

To increase your protection against coronavirus and other potential germs and pathogens, clean and disinfect “high-touch areas” first, especially hard surfaces. Viruses generally live longer on hard surfaces than on soft, more porous ones, according to the Mayo Clinic.

That means counter tops, doorknobs, faucets, light switches, toilets and sinks. The CDC says you can use regular soap and water for most cleaning (or a special cleanser if the manufacturer calls for it).

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved a list of disinfectants for emerging pathogens, including the new coronavirus. One of the simplest and most effective is a diluted bleach solution (four teaspoons of bleach per quart of water). Wear disposable gloves if you can while you’re cleaning.

Don’t forget cell phones, computer accessories, tablets, remote controls and video game controllers. Often handled, small electronics are often ignored. For most, dampen a cloth with a spray bottle solution of one part alcohol and one part water and wipe thoroughly.

Regular disinfection is a great habit to get into, even when the “all-clear” is sounded. “Regularly” is a relative word, but in general, you should aim to clean your home at least once a week.

Watch out for unintended consequences. Disinfectant wipes, paper towels and other paper products should never be flushed down the toilet. Compounding this problem is the recent hoarding of toilet paper products by some panicked consumers, causing others to resort to use these items for personal hygiene.

Putting anything other than toilet paper in the toilet clogs sewers, causing backups and overflows and creating an additional public health risk. All such products belong in the trash.

If there’s one tiny positive that can come from this terrible pandemic, it’s that Americans have been thoroughly re-educated on the right ways to improve personal hygiene and housecleaning, so we might better avoid situations like this from arising in the future.